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Ringo64

What happened to Pontiac?

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Thought this was rather on point 

 

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Blame the Aztek. Lol. It was U G L Y.

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It looked much better than the Juke IMO

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Die hard enthusiasts will disagree but the guy is right. 

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17 hours ago, 68venable said:

Blame the Aztek. Lol. It was U G L Y.

While the angry dumpster on wheels gets a lot of the blame, it was a symptom of Pontiac's demise, not the cause. Decades of mismanagement and bland styling and "brand engineering" are the ultimate cause of Pontiac's demise. The Aztek was a risk Pontiac took (in styling) to help differentiate itself from the pack. It's easy to criticize it but honestly, it worked, people remember it - good or bad.

15 hours ago, notallthere said:

Die hard enthusiasts will disagree but the guy is right. 

I agree that GM failed to market any of these cars properly. Expecting the GTO to sell well when production was extraordinarily limited to around 13,000-16,000 units a year by the Monaro specialty line is something people often forget. The resurrected GTO died when the Monaro was due for a re-design. Solstice and G8 were the right cars at the wrong time. GM spent virtually no money marketing these cars (as it barely marketed the GTO) since they were nearly out of cash at the time.

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17 hours ago, Ringo64 said:

It looked much better than the Juke IMO

Ill agree with that. It was ahead of its time for sure. People love ugly little crossover things now.

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1 hour ago, Frosty said:

While the angry dumpster on wheels gets a lot of the blame, it was a symptom of Pontiac's demise, not the cause. Decades of mismanagement and bland styling and "brand engineering" are the ultimate cause of Pontiac's demise. The Aztek was a risk Pontiac took (in styling) to help differentiate itself from the pack. It's easy to criticize it but honestly, it worked, people remember it - good or bad.

I agree that GM failed to market any of these cars properly. Expecting the GTO to sell well when production was extraordinarily limited to around 13,000-16,000 units a year by the Monaro specialty line is something people often forget. The resurrected GTO died when the Monaro was due for a re-design. Solstice and G8 were the right cars at the wrong time. GM spent virtually no money marketing these cars (as it barely marketed the GTO) since they were nearly out of cash at the time.

This was part of it, but it is complicated and subtly convoluted, wrapped up in greed at the same time. GM’s eyes where on China for quite a while. They thought they could make a killing there and Buick was the weapon of choice. GM’s leadership failed to understand three things, which they still fail to understand. 

First you must know how to capture your own home market, you know the one they keep losing more of each year. Secondly GM needed to understand that the Chinese, as they have always done, would eventually steal the basic concept of Buick and do it for themselves thus sticking it to GM which has now happened! Thirdly they needed to recognize that the large majority of car buyers today don’t care about style, mechanical function or what is actual reality. You needn’t look any further than the service industry growth in this country over the past two decades to realize this. The masses are so lazy they won’t even cook for themselves or get off the couch to go to the store. Let’s face it self driving cars say it all!!

48 minutes ago, 68venable said:

Ill agree with that. It was ahead of its time for sure. People love ugly little crossover things now.

Actually, IMO, it was late to the party! That basic idea had already been done!

Edited by Last Indian
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1 hour ago, Frosty said:

I visited China in 2000. GM had just started selling the Buick GS over there (a Buick Regal in the States at the time). Most of them were black and chauffeur driven.

Went back in 2007. Do remember seeing a few Buicks and was actually shocked. I was a little less car obsessed back then though.

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1 hour ago, Ringo64 said:

Went back in 2007. Do remember seeing a few Buicks and was actually shocked. I was a little less car obsessed back then though.

At the time I went, I was working at the Flint V6 Engineering Center. We were sending guys to China left and right because China had a 3.0 liter max. displacement limit on automobiles built or imported into China. So we were designing a de-stroked and de-bored Buick V6 3800 engine for the China market. The 3.0L limit was due, in part, to China's extensive smog problem. If you were in Beijing, you might remember the orange haze sky.

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29 minutes ago, Frosty said:

At the time I went, I was working at the Flint V6 Engineering Center. We were sending guys to China left and right because China had a 3.0 liter max. displacement limit on automobiles built or imported into China. So we were designing a de-stroked and de-bored Buick V6 3800 engine for the China market. The 3.0L limit was due, in part, to China's extensive smog problem. If you were in Beijing, you might remember the orange haze sky.

That's very cool! Yeah, was in Beijing just a bit ahead of the Olympics so it was a little better than probably you saw but still I remember the smog. Every time you sneezed it was just black.

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5 minutes ago, Ringo64 said:

That's very cool! Yeah, was in Beijing just a bit ahead of the Olympics so it was a little better than probably you saw but still I remember the smog. Every time you sneezed it was just black.

Yup, exactly. Half the people were walking around wearing surgical / breathing masks too.

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3 hours ago, Frosty said:

Yeah, I am old enough to remember the AMC Pacer and the VW Thing.

Last Indian., I don't disagree with you on points one and three. While I will admit that the Chinese have and always will try to stick it to every foreign investor, Buick is a highly revered automobile name in Chinese society, more than Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz combined. Owning a Buick in China is a sign of social prestige. I visited China in 2000. GM had just started selling the Buick GS over there (a Buick Regal in the States at the time). Most of them were black and chauffeur driven.

The first three cars in China were 1912 Buicks. One was given to the Emperor (it still resides in the Forbidden City), one to the Prime Minister, and one to a prominent doctor. Further, back in the 1930s, the U.S. had Marines stationed in China before the outbreak of WWII. These "China" Marines had Buick and Lincoln staff cars for the officers to drive around in. China has a long societal memory, so a car that was good enough for the emperor, the prime minster and these officers,. it must be truly exception vehicles and worth owning. 

So GM was definitely trying to open a new market for sales and profits in China  (the world's largest economy) and Asia as a whole with Buick. Clearly that is what saved Buick when the axe fell on Pontiac in 2008. If GM axed Buick at home, it would have damagex its reputation in China as well. Today, more Buick's are sold in China than in North America. Hard to believe that David Dunbar Buick died nearly penniless too.

I find your comment about the rise of the services industry interesting. If manufacturing is so horrible, why does virtually every other country on the planet (except the USA) want it if it is so bad? The answer is it isn't bad, it creates 10 jobs for every 1 manufacturing job. We've been blinded by greed, social activism, environmental activism, automation, bad trade laws, currency manipulation, and unrealistic federal and state mandates that have driven jobs from this country. For some reason, people expect if the US does something (this stupid), others will do the same. Guess what - they didn't. 

So all that leaves is service jobs. Well guess what? Most service jobs can be leveraged from virtually anywhere on the globe unless there is a citizenship or location mandate on the position. Now you are seeing the rise in global outsourcing to places like India, Singapore, the Philippines, etc. for those remaining service jobs. So what's left?  Not much . Construction. Finance (to a point). Government (federal, state, and local levels). Energy (oil, gas, wind, solar). Retail - although it is dying a slow death thanks to the likes of Amazon and e-commerce in general. 

This is time where new jobs have to be created, either thru the creation of new industries, or resurrection/transformation of old ones. Sadly, I am not seeing much on the foreseeable horizon. I fear that our children and grandchildren will have a lower standard of living that we do.

I’m sorry Frosty, I should have explain myself better! GM should never have axed Pontiac. It was the third best selling brand, ahead of Buick, and that was because of America sales. Likewise the sales of Buick in China the way GM touted didn’t really happen. The hierarchy of GM should never have allowed the government to bully them into killing Pontiac. Yes many mistakes had been made, but not just by Pontiac or GM! As you aptly point out, the government had a huge roll in the auto industry’s problems.

Then with respect to the service industry statement. I was specifically speaking of actual service technicians coming to fix virtually anything for people because they, 1. literally have on knowledge or ability to do so and/or 2. are to lazy to do so. And yes for those who are too busy and have the money it’s a different matter.

I am all about manufacturing! It is the single most important function and the main core of business. I addressed a local small business council about 10 years ago. In that address I told them that the biggest disconnect how they approached technical skilled jobs like welding, machine, fabricating, etc. I put it this way to them. What saved America in WWII wasn’t the military! This wasn’t to take anything away from all the soldiers who gave everything they were true heroes in every since of the word! Yet the real saviors were the men who literally overnight converted factories from making appliances, cars, farm implements etc to tank plants, bomber and fighter plants, munition plants, etc. without that happening those soldiers didn’t stand a chance. 

We clearly haven’t learned from history. If a country can’t make its own machines of war, it’s domed to fall to its enemies. I’m sorry to say I fear there are not enough skilled folks left to ever mount such an effort as we had then. We couldn’t even help New Orleans or Jersey when they need it in a reasonable length of time. 

I’ll get of my soap box now. I don’t mean to go on I just get discouraged with it all when I see such decay in the basics. It’s hard to rebuild an engine with a smart phone app!!

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Wow! It's amazing how much we think alike. It must be because we are "old school", non-millennials, whatever.

I applaud Two Lane for bring up the lack of skilled trades these days. Damn few men and women are going into these hardcore technical fields because, as a society, we seemed to have ridiculed or thumbed our collective noses at blue collar work. It's not as glamorous or they shouldn't be paid the same as white collar work. It's dirty work. It requires weekend and evening work, not 9-5. Whatever. Long term, we will pay the price for that lack of vision, for sure.

It started with pagers and now it's cell phones. These modern conveniences are still huge source of interruption - as long as we permit them to be. If work rules are made such that personal phones must be on vibrate or turned off during core working hours. Emergency calls must come into the main office, etc. Then modern workers might learn a tad bit of moderation.

The workers of today have very little attention span unless it is something they really want to do Two Lane. I've noticed that with my own son. With all the video games, TV shows and movies at his disposal, he'd rather watch YouTube videos. He is easily bored. Outside of playing baseball, he has very little interest in anything else. So the lack of attention seems to be a collective generational thing, not something you are doing wrong.

Last Indian, while in spirit I agree with you. GM should have never let the government axe Pontiac. However, car czar Steve Rattner was a financial adviser and a bully for the Obama administration. He was wielding a $82B bailout stick. He made GM and Chrysler jump through hoops to cut costs dramatically, arrange for them to quickly go thru bankruptcy. He also bullied GM and Chrysler's creditors to accepting the bankruptcy deal. SO he played both sides of the fence. They say the sign of a good compromise is when no one is very happy with the deal. 

I truly believe Bob Lutz had the right vision for Pontiac, turning it into a niche performance brand. The two decades of mismanagement before it, the lack of overall "brand" profitability and then GM's lack of vision and cash to adequately market the models that it had at the time ultimately doomed Pontiac.

The one remaining question I would like answered is why wasn't Pontiac put up for sale like Hummer, Saturn, and Saab? There was someone who was interested in buying it but GM never considered it. I'd like to know why. My working theory is Hummer, Saturn, and Saab were not as vertically integrated into GM as Pontiac was. Hummer, Saturn, and Saab were more easily separated from GM than Pontiac and GM didn't want to be bothered with the effort it would take to separate Pontiac from Chevrolet and Buick at each and every platform and assembly plant that was shared. That's my guess anyway.

Lastly, I agree with you regarding the learning from history and being "the arsenal for democracy". We have to learn. Our child and grandchildren have to learn too.

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37 minutes ago, Frosty said:

I've noticed that with my own son. With all the video games, TV shows and movies at his disposal, he'd rather watch YouTube videos. He is easily bored. Outside of playing baseball, he has very little interest in anything else. So the lack of attention seems to be a collective generational thing, not something you are doing wrong.

Personally, I think this is the age of individual rather than a specific time period item. The only difference being now, there are more devices/technology to occupy ones time. Cell phones weren't around yet when I was a kid and I had a horrible attention span :lol: .

The trades thing is definitely a society problem and I agree. Overall, I feel that even if you don't go to college these days society looks at you as a failure. College to me was a decent foundation but does nothing for you if you do not have drive and on-the-job knowledge. 

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Interesting point Ringo. I grew up in Flint, Michigan in the 60s and 70s.  That was the peak of the US auto industry. In those days, as a high school graduate you had a choice. You could go to college, get a degree, and get a salary job at GM. Or you could go to work in the shop, join the UAW, and possibly get into skilled trades and start making really good money right away. Both choices were considered equally acceptable to the community.

My how times have changed. After about 1985, getting into the shop was difficult since GM simply was not hiring union workers anymore. There were enough closing factories and "bump" privileges that GM just brought employees in from local plants that were closing. Salaried then became about the only way to get into GM.

One celebrity that is campaigning for blue collar jobs and vocational school training to Congress is Mike Rowe, from "Dirty Job".

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Definitely. Shift of the way employers had needs probably shifted that as well.

44 minutes ago, Frosty said:

One celebrity that is campaigning for blue collar jobs and vocational school training to Congress is Mike Rowe, from "Dirty Job".

Mike seems like a good guy, I always like Dirty Jobs. Always see his stuff on social media that he is doing for the blue collar worker and it's great!

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Funny story about Mike Rowe. He explains what happens in his own words.

What makes this weirder for me is that the twins are related on my wife's side of the family. Now imagine going to the family reunion and having them show up.....<sigh>.

Edited by Frosty
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On 2/8/2018 at 7:29 AM, Frosty said:

Wow! It's amazing how much we think alike. It must be because we are "old school", non-millennials, whatever.

I applaud Two Lane for bring up the lack of skilled trades these days. Damn few men and women are going into these hardcore technical fields because, as a society, we seemed to have ridiculed or thumbed our collective noses at blue collar work. It's not as glamorous or they shouldn't be paid the same as white collar work. It's dirty work. It requires weekend and evening work, not 9-5. Whatever. Long term, we will pay the price for that lack of vision, for sure.

It started with pagers and now it's cell phones. These modern conveniences are still huge source of interruption - as long as we permit them to be. If work rules are made such that personal phones must be on vibrate or turned off during core working hours. Emergency calls must come into the main office, etc. Then modern workers might learn a tad bit of moderation.

The workers of today have very little attention span unless it is something they really want to do Two Lane. I've noticed that with my own son. With all the video games, TV shows and movies at his disposal, he'd rather watch YouTube videos. He is easily bored. Outside of playing baseball, he has very little interest in anything else. So the lack of attention seems to be a collective generational thing, not something you are doing wrong.

Last Indian, while in spirit I agree with you. GM should have never let the government axe Pontiac. However, car czar Steve Rattner was a financial adviser and a bully for the Obama administration. He was wielding a $82B bailout stick. He made GM and Chrysler jump through hoops to cut costs dramatically, arrange for them to quickly go thru bankruptcy. He also bullied GM and Chrysler's creditors to accepting the bankruptcy deal. SO he played both sides of the fence. They say the sign of a good compromise is when no one is very happy with the deal. 

I truly believe Bob Lutz had the right vision for Pontiac, turning it into a niche performance brand. The two decades of mismanagement before it, the lack of overall "brand" profitability and then GM's lack of vision and cash to adequately market the models that it had at the time ultimately doomed Pontiac.

The one remaining question I would like answered is why wasn't Pontiac put up for sale like Hummer, Saturn, and Saab? There was someone who was interested in buying it but GM never considered it. I'd like to know why. My working theory is Hummer, Saturn, and Saab were not as vertically integrated into GM as Pontiac was. Hummer, Saturn, and Saab were more easily separated from GM than Pontiac and GM didn't want to be bothered with the effort it would take to separate Pontiac from Chevrolet and Buick at each and every platform and assembly plant that was shared. That's my guess anyway.

Lastly, I agree with you regarding the learning from history and being "the arsenal for democracy". We have to learn. Our child and grandchildren have to learn too.

While this discussion could go on for a long time and mutate perpetually, I will add just a few more observations from my 66 years on this rock. 

We’re all kind of right in our statements and there are many exceptions and variations to them, so I’m not casting any stones. Yet as a society in the US we are shifting towards becoming Eloi not Morlocks! These are the two humanoids from Earth in H G Wells Time Machine. The Elois did nothing, they just relaxed all day every day. Didn’t even grow their own food, but they were the food for the Morlocks in payment for the Morlocks providing everything for them.

Anyway electronic/digital technology is a marvelous development and has a prominent place in society, just not the dominant place. Unfortunately it does, but not just the dominant place, but to a great degree the only place! All of those electronic/digital technologies can’t produce a single beneficial product without mechanical hardware being there first.

Frosty & JustA might remember a few things and be aware. The rest of you may not, but I dislike talking about myself, though I will mention some here to make a point. I hated school! I was bored, I wanted out, my home life was, well not good and the only thing I liked was sports and cars, even at 8 years of age. I had a high IQ and everyone wanted and expected more. Fast forward to college, just 1 semester, hurt in football never went back. Now only college prep under my belt, zero experience in any craft an still by 21, I was doing higher level tool & die machining. By 25 I had moved to LZ where I was doing R&D machining which was intricate and complex. By 27 I was heading up projects to create new testing equipment. Still I was looked down on by my very own managers as just a blue collar machinist! When I was 41a mechanical engineer in our engine lab pulled me from my managements death grip. That is real what it was as they still had involvement in my activity and became increasingly more envious of my work continuously. At 45 one PhD changed everything for me, he was introduced to me by the the engineer I spoke of. What is relevant here is he was German not American! They don’t view higher education and technical skills the way the US does. 

In Europe and Asia in general they view technical skills a little like the US views computer tech skills! Having a degree doesn’t mean as much as being able to do, Ringo & Frosty should get this! 

I worked with this PhD for 8 years, by the third year I had three mechanical patents relative to the work we were doing. I was designing, machining & building new products & test equipment & running’s projects. Then and only then did they start coming out of the woodwork & additional patents ensued. So much so that I was told by my managers that I was too valuable to work in the machine shop any longer so I was moved to engineering were I finished my career. 

Some time later in a conversation with with my manager, who was an engineer, but only about 30. We were discussing thermal expansion and from there a discussion about my brake system I had designed some 30 years earlier and the fact that the rotors were assembled out of three pieces. That these three parts were thermally put together without welding and used to stop a 3300 lb. car. He couldn’t believe it! I explained to him how the old steam locomotives wheels were assembled on to the axle of the locomotive and he had never heard of such a thing! Unbelievable! He’s a college degreed engineer/manager. 
A hundred years ago the machinist was elevated in our society. He lived on the same street with doctors & lawyers. He was quite often the logical choice to be made an engineer! He was for all intended purpose an engineer, a metallurgist, a designer of equipment even before those titles existed. Frosty I have no doubt that your father at some point in his illustrous career knew such men. 

We, a society who thinks so much of ourselves here in the states are in for a rude awakening! It is a shame because I do believe that heart still beats in the young, but to many morons from my generation have forgotten the 60’s long ago and have become far worse that what they thought their parents generation was when they were protesting so vehemently. Today we send kids to college to be something they really aren’t suited for, while the ones left out usually are not the best minds for the higher skilled jobs. Colleges are about endowments and profit, building more buildings and bolstering their rankings. Not the welfare of students and certainly not   In the best interest of the country!

Edited by Last Indian
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Last Indian - I am proud to say I knew many a UAW machinists in my working career. Most of them were working in either the AC Spark Plug Model Shop (prototype tools, die, and parts), Powertrain V6 Engineering CNC/CAD/CAM shops, or Flint Engine South and Flint North production machinists.

My paternal grandfather was a tool and die-sinker for close to 51 years when he retired from Buick Motor Division in  May 1971 (he lied about his age and started working at 16 so the family story goes). The tool and die-sinker trade position no longer exists at GM.

They always had my respect in the ways they could shape and cut metal. They respected my computer / IT abilities. We treated each other with respect and concern for one another. I never once cared if I was white collar and they were blue collar. 

I would further add that we, as a society, don't encourage skilled trades as a legitimate alternative choice to a formal college degree. I was reading an article this morning about the sad state the United States aging infrastructure (roads, bridges, power grid, airports, docks, etc) is. Assuming we as a nation choose to fund these repairs, who do you thin will do that repair work? Accountants? MBAs? CEOs? Nope blue collar workers. The question will be - do we have enough people in this country to do this work? I rather doubt it. Kinda sad when you stop to think about it. 

Okay, I'm off my soap box too.

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Okay maybe I'm not quite done but I will to try to bring this back or more back on topic, I honestly don't see GM ever bringing Pontiac as a viable division or marketing division back. GM is making more money now than they have in decades. However I think there is way but I doubt GM would ever do it.

GM could bring back a car line or two- for example the Firebird/Trans Am since the Camaro is already in production. They could create a GM Legends Collection (GLC) or Heritage Collection (GHC) of cars. Use existing platforms to produce them to minimize costs, GM could bring back retro-styled Firebird or Trans Am off the Camaro platform, a GTO  and a 442 off the CTS/ATS platform. The GLC/GHC series could be sold through the existing Buick/GMC dealers. No Pontiac or Oldsmobile names are ever put on the cars. Just the trade mark arrowhead or circle/dash emblems are on the car. This would draw back certain disenfranchised Pontiac and Olds owners 

The downside is GM would have to tool up for more models and therefore incur more costs. The added cost is something I think prohibits them from moving forward with an idea like this. Also I am sure someone will argue that the GLC/GHC series will cannibalize sales from the Camaro and ATS/CTS. 

It's just my two cents mind you.

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I too  come from a long line of very highly skilled and respected tradesmen..Dating back a hundred years...Have been pretty much hands on since I was able to walk...Could go on for hours or write pages upon pages about it...Appreciate the fact.. Frosty and Last Indian that I'm not the only one that has the same insights and thoughts...The reality is times have definitely changed and it will never go back to the way it was before.....

Frosty you have my vote for CEO of GM also....

Edited by TWO LANE BLACK TOP

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If we can win the proxy votes or win over the board of directors, I am so there gents.

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